Functional analysis of Caulobacter crescentus holdfast polysaccharide biosynthetic pathway
Caulobacter crescentus produces a strongly adherent polysaccharide localized at the tip of cell envelope extensions or stalks. This polysaccharide promotes permanent adherence to surfaces contributing to the formation of biofilms, as well as adhesion to other cells. While chemical analysis suggests the possible composition of the holdfast polysaccharide, the exact structure is unknown. Currently I’m analyzing the function and sequence of enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of the holdfast polysaccharide using fluorescent analogues of bactoprenyl monophosphate synthesized by the Troutman Lab. Elucidation of these mechanisms could lead to novel biofilm treatments in medicinal and ecological areas of research and advancements in understanding adhesive properties of bacterial exopolysaccharides. In the future, I hope to characterize the structure of the holdfast polysaccharide in collaboration with the Crosson Lab at the University of Chicago.